Search This Blog

December 17, 2010

Habits of Mind: Thinking Interdependently

"It's good to rub and polish our brain against that of others." - Michael De Montaigne

Thinking "interdependently" can take on many facets in the school setting. Teamwork; group projects; cooperative learning. These are some of the buzz words one might encounter in the K-12 classroom. According to Art Costa and Bena Kallick in their book "Habits of Mind Across the Curriculum," when students work with their individual strengths in mind, they must remember that, "Each member can only succeed individually...if all members succeed collectively."

In an age when test score focus and uniform learning might reign in many classrooms, teachers would do well to remember the creativity and inspired learning that can occur when students work together. And no, I'm not talking necessarily about letting partners do "group work" that involves answering some questions at the end of a chapter. It goes beyond that.

Costa and Kallick called it "Reciprocal Learning." Harvard Education Professor Richard Elmore calls it "The Principle of Reciprocity." While these two terms might take different meanings at different times depending on the classroom assignments or relationships, they both have to do with learning being a two-way (reciprocal) relationship, not a "teacher-to-student" one-way path.

In order for reciprocal learning to take place, teamwork must be emphasized and modeled. Other habits of mind also come in to play. As Costa and Kallick point out, thinking about your thinking (metacognition), thinking flexibly, and listening and understanding with empathy, are some of the habits that students (and teachers) must have to work effectively together.

1 comment:

  1. Recently the students in art class completed an interdependent project. They were given loose guildelines and faced the challenge of creating a painting in pairs. It was interesting to ovserve the students being challenged by the aforementioned habits of mind. I believe the success of the final paintings stemmed from the students' effort to build off of the strengths of one another. I am convinced that this should be done more frequently and intentionally.

    Thanks for sharing,